Corydalis formosa. (Dielytra Formosa.) Turkey Corn.
Nat. Ord. — Fumariaceae. Sex. Syst. — Diadelphia Pentandria.
Description. — This plant, likewise known as Wild Turkey-pea, Stagger-weed, Choice Dielytra, is an indigenous perennial plant, rising from six to ten inches in hight, and having a tuberous root. The leaves are radical, rising from ten to fifteen inches high, somewhat triternate, with incisely pinnatifid segments, but quite variable. The scape is naked, and rises from eight to twelve inches in hight, with from four to eight cymes, each with from six to ten reddish-purple, nodding flowers ; racemes compound, the branches cymose ; corolla from eight to ten lines long, broad at base ; nectaries or spurs very short, obtuse, incurved ; bracts purplish, at base of pedicels ; style extended ; stigma, two-horned at apex ; sepals two, deciduous ; capsule pod-shaped, many seeded.
History. — This beautiful little plant was introduced to the profession by Professor Jones. It flowers very early in the spring, in this section of the country as early as March ; and the root or tuber, which is a small round ball, should be collected only while the plant is in flower. It grows in rich soil, on hills and mountains, among rocks, and old, decayed timber, and is found westward, and south of New York to N. Carolina.
It must be distinguished from the Corydalis Cucullaria, which flowers at the same time, and very much resembles it. The root or bulb of the C. formosa, when fresh, is of a darkish-yellow color throughout, while the C. cucullaria has a black cortex or rind, and is white internally. When dried the external covering of the root is of a light grayish-yellow color, about the fourth of a line thick, inclosing an internal, light-yellow substance ; frequently it is of a dark color externally, and when examined under a microscope, full of pores, and internally, yellow or brownish-yellow. It has a faint, peculiar odor, and a taste at first slightly bitter, succeeded by one somewhat penetrating, peculiar and persistent, gently influencing the fauces, and increasing the flow of saliva. The cause of the difference of appearance in drying is not known, unless it be owing to the difference in the age of the root. Microscopic examination of the lighter variety gives a porous, spongy, resinous, glistening fracture ; and of the darker, a fracture very much resembling honeycomb. Water or alcohol extracts its virtues. It has not been analyzed, though it contains an alkaloid principle named Corydalia. I called the attention of Eclectics to this principle in the U. S. Eclectic Dispensatory, as corydalin, not having submitted it to any chemical tests, since which, Mr. W. S. Merrell has manufactured it for the profession, and ascertained its alkaline character. When in powder, corydalia is of a greenish-brown color, insoluble in water, partially soluble in ether, and completely so in alcohol. Diluted muriatic and sulphuric acids dissolve it. Nitric acid reddens it, and it forms crystallizable salts with acetic and sulphuric acids. It is of a peculiar, slightly aloetic odor, of a weak bitter, sub-acrid, and nauseous taste, and rather tenacious. Four pounds of the Corydalis root, yields little more than an ounce of this alkaloid. It is obtained by adding water to the tincture of the root, a portion of the alkaloid is precipitated ; filter the supernatant liquid, and add to it ammonia, which causes another precipitate of the alkaloid ; again filter the supernatant liquid, and add to it muriatic acid, when the balance of the alkaloid remaining in the solution is precipitated. Probably it may be obtained by adding muriatic acid to a strong infusion of the root and precipitating with ammonia.
Properties and Uses. — This agent is peculiar to Eclectics, not being known by any other class of practitioners. It is tonic, diuretic, and alterative. In all syphilitic affections, it is one of the best remedies we have ; and will likewise be found valuable in scrofula, and in all cases where tonics are indicated. As a tonic, it possesses properties similar to the Gentian, Colombo, or other pure bitters ; its alterative properties, however, render it of immense value. In syphilis it seems to be possessed of magical powers. The corydalia possesses all the alterative properties of the bulb in an eminent degree, and will be found useful in all scrofulous and syphilitic affections, as well as in many cutaneous diseases.
Dose of the infusion, from one to four fluidounces, three or four times a day ; of the saturated tincture, from half a fluidrachm to two fiuidrachms ; of corydalia, from one half of a grain to one grain, three or four times a day. The infusion to be made by adding four drachms of the powdered bulb to one pint of boiling water.
Corydalia may be advantageously combined with berberin, hydrastin, ptelein, etc., as a tonic, and with podophyllin, xanthoxylin, stillingin, iridin, and phytolaccin, etc., as an alterative.
Off. Prep. — Corydalia; Decoctum Corydalis; Extractum Corydalis Hydro-alcoholicum ; Syrupus Stillingiae Compositus ; Syrupus Corydalis Compositus ; Tinctura Corydalis.